Decarbonisation of heating: 'Renovation wave'
The gas industry has a key role to play in addressing the twin challenge of energy efficiency and affordability of Europe’s ageing building stock. Gas on and off the grid can substantially reduce the GHG emissions caused by heating at an affordable cost, especially in those countries where a considerable number of residential buildings still rely on coal. In countries such as Poland and Belgium, 75% of off-grid heating comes from heating oil and coal. In Germany, the share of these energy sources reaches 68% and 42% in France.
Switching from coal to gas in heating can reduce emissions by 33%, taking into account both CO2 and methane emissions. Replacing inefficient and carbon intensive heating technologies with condensing gas boilers, also in rural areas, is therefore a measure that can immediately reduce CO2, NOx, SOx and PM emissions, improve air quality and increase efficiency at a significantly lower cost than alternatives. Similar considerations apply to replacing old gas boilers with new ones: the latter delivers energy savings of up to 30%.
For example, switching from coal or heating oil to a modern condensing LPG boiler and retrofitting thermal insulation can both reduce emissions and deliver cost savings to rural consumers. Moreover, hybrid heating systems coupled with LPG-fuelled appliances, which can run on a drop-in renewable substitute in the future, bioLPG, can facilitate the uptake of renewables in buildings.
Almost 25% of people in rural areas are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Therefore, the challenge of decarbonising heating in Europe is closely intertwined with the challenge of energy poverty. All households, particularly the most vulnerable, need to have access to efficient heating solutions that reduce their energy demand and GHG emissions at an affordable cost. Denying these citizens access to such technologies will result in excluding them from the energy transition. It is therefore crucial to keep all options open for citizens.